Fairytale for Ian Hutchinson with his Isle of Man win
Five years after almost losing his leg in a short circuit incident and fearing he would never ride again, Ian Hutchinson was back where he belongs - the top step of an Isle of Man TT podium, taking last night's opening four-lap Supersport race victory by almost eight seconds over Bruce Anstey and Gary Johnson.
It was a reversal of Sunday's six-lap RST Superbike race result for the 35-year-old Bingley rider, whose father flew in yesterday on a surprise visit to see his son in action. And despite it taking almost the entire opening lap to get his nose in front, the record breaking five-in-a-week winner at the 2010 TT reigned victorious on the Team Traction Control R6 Yamaha.
Speaking afterwards, Hutchinson (pictured), who had over 30 operations to save his left leg from amputation following the Silverstone crash just months after that historic five-timer, gave credit to Prodigy front man Keith Flint's Traction Control Team - with whom he secured an 11th-hour deal to ride with.
"I was meant to ride the MV but the bike wasn't going to be ready in time and I asked the TTC boys if they could provide me with a bike. They pretty much dropped everything to help me and I'm sure Keith Flint will be starting fires tonight," he joked, referring to the world-renowned singer's Firestarter track.
In third place was Lincolnshire's Johnson, riding the Northern Ireland based Mar-Train Racing's Yamaha UK backed R6 machine.
In the early exchanges on the opening lap, Johnson and team-mate Dean Harrison were one and two.
Unfortunately for Harrison, the bad luck that has haunted him this season continued, with his R6 suffering mechanical gremlins at Crosby.
As they pitted for fuel at the end of lap two, 75 miles into the race, Hutchinson led Anstey by just over two seconds with Johnson a similar distance behind the 46-year-old Kiwi.
Guy Martin was up to fourth on his first competitive outing on the Smiths' Triumph, but incurred a 30-second pit lane penalty for excess speed exiting his fuel stop.
Although it didn't affect the final podium positions, Martin did bring the British built machine home in fifth place.
At the end of lap three, and going into the final 37.73-miles of racing, Hutchinson held a commanding six-second lead over Anstey with the gap again similar to Johnson.
Fermanagh's Lee Johnston, also 675 Triumph mounted but racing under the East Coast Construction banner, was up to fourth place, a position he held until the chequered flag.
Johnson's third place was a first Isle of Man TT podium for the Temple based Mar-Train team, and the Grimsby rider said afterwards: "I've come in and jumped on the Mar-Train Yamaha at the last minute, but it's a mega package. Yes we've work to do on the bike and I've work to do also, but I'm happy with that."
Anstey, who took his 10th career TT win on Sunday, was full of praise for Hutchinson, who is now just one victory behind him on nine. He said: "Fair play to Ian, he's had a tough couple of years. I pushed hard but he pushed harder.
"I hit the kerb at the top of Bray Hill because of the wind at the start of the first lap and it took me a whole lap to settle down. But that's one win each for Ian and I so far this TT."
Hutchinson received a rousing reception by fans. He said: "Starting at No 9 was not ideal and I maybe got moved back to there as some people maybe thought I wasn't capable.
"I caught Guy and got held up a little bit, but the bike was that good and I felt so comfortable it was like being out delivering pizza.
"On a Superbike you don't get much time to take it all in as they are hard work around here, but on the little 600 I was able to give the fans a wave on that last lap and I felt so much more comfortable than in the first race and if I'm honest I was cruising really."
James Hillier took fifth with John McGuinness, Conor Cummins, Dan Kneen and Michael Rutter completing the top 10. Michael Dunlop retired his Hunts Honda from 12th on the second lap and Keith Amor crashed and was aired to hospital with facial injuries.